PAUSE-ANR Ukraine - PAUSE-ANR Ukraine

Multimodal language practices in French family dinners – DINLANG_Ukraine

Submission summary

The DINLANG project aims to capture how semiotic resources (speech/sign, gestures, actions) are coordinated to construct meaning through the language practices transmitted to and used by children during French family dinners. Ethnographic methods will be used by four teams to collect dinners in two age groups with hearing and deaf participants using two official languages of France: French and French sign language (LSF). Our quantitative and qualitative analyses will lead to innovative results on the function and forms of situated interactive practices as they shape and propel the dynamics of family life. It will target social, discursive and semiotic variations in a valued French cultural habitat with its sensory experiences and its situated activities. The data collection, the multimodal platform, the semi-automatic annotation system developed in the project and our scientific results, will contribute to enrich the methods and theoretical models employed to understand the transmission of multimodal resources to speaking and signing children.
The proposed project is closely fitted to the mission of CES 27 on culture, creations and heritage through its focus on family dinners as French cultural heritage. Through family dinner conversations spiced with food and the company of loved ones, we aim to capture the transmission of one of our most precious cultural treasures – language.
Family dinners grounded in commensality and conversation are a major collective ritual that plays a key role in French people’s identity and constitutes an inherent part of French cultural heritage. Those shared moments of everyday life present a perfect opportunity to study how language and interactive practices are transmitted to and used by children in order for them to construct meaning. Because the subtle interweaving of these practices while eating fully engages the body, this project will highlight the semiotic differences between children using a spoken language, French, and a sign language, LSF, at different ages.
Our theoretical framework will incorporate 1) the models of linguistic anthropology focused on language socialization; 2) multimodal approaches to language; 3) a formal, kinesiological approach to gesture and sign; and 4) a linguistic model combining usage-based and constructional linguistics and an interactive approach to pragmatics. Our expected results involve the identification, characterization and comparison of language practices in signing and speaking families of France, which will clearly highlight French identity and its interactive transmission during French meals, as cultural heritage.
The ambition of our complementary analyses is to implement a new theoretical model in which we articulate the embodied forms of expression and the symbolic functions of language to demonstrate how languaging is relative to its forms of expression and the affordances of its context. This approach will be supported by the choice of a shared cultural event, French family dinners, for analysis of common features and variations between speech, sign, co-verbal and co-signed gesture, (including gaze and facial expressions) in situated activities and in interaction. This study will be grounded in the exploration of the actional roots of language which are shaped and expressed differently according to the ongoing activities, channels of communication and age of children. Its linguistic focus will be the use of personal and temporal refence in proximal and distal discourse. This research will allow the development of conceptual tools to capture children’s progressive mastery of the most remarkable feature of human languaging: how to use our bodies (mouths, eyes, face, mouth, hands, arms…) to express not only what is perceivable in the here and now (proximal) but what is absent or highly subjective (distal): remembrances of things past, projects, dreams, affective and evaluative stances, abstractions and figments of our imagination.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.



Help of the ANR 35,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 6 Months

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